Gatlinburg

Like so many others, I’ve been following the news footage from Gatlinburg all day. I spent so much of my childhood in that area, and have many special memories from my adult life there as well. It’s heartbreaking to see the destruction.

I’ve come across a few negative comments. We’re southerners, so we’re fairly accustomed to hearing ignorant, ill-informed, stereotypical comments coming at us. We generally just ignore those folks, with a sweet little, “bless their heart.”

But those condescending comments made along the lines of, “Why didn’t people get out sooner?”
“Why weren’t orders given to evacuate earlier?”
“Don’t people know to leave when there’s fire?!”
are really starting to irk me.

Allow me to explain something to those too obtuse to get it.
This. Was. A. Disaster.

In general, those don’t come with a lot of warning. And in more specific terms, this particular kind of disaster is not something we deal with very often. We have forest fires, yes. However, I don’t remember anything like this one in my lifetime. What happened yesterday was the result of a deadly combination of months of drought and ridiculously high winds coming up against a fire. There were gusts up to 87 miles per hour in the mountains That is not “normal” here.
Any of those 3 things are bad, but you put them all together and you have a guaranteed disaster.

We were prepared for wind, sure, but not a firestorm of wind. And that’s exactly what it was.

It’s so easy for those on the outside of a situation to see just exactly how things SHOULD have been done. It’s easy to say, “Well I would have……”
And certainly, there are likely people who have learned a hard lesson. They’ll probably be more prepared if they face this kind of situation again. But the fact remains, this was not a hurricane that was forecast with 2 weeks notice. This was a disaster with very little warning.

Gatlinburg will come back. Don’t you worry about that. That’s what we “mountain people,” do.
In the meantime, pray for all the people, families, animals, businesses, livelihoods, and spirits dealing with the aftermath. If you can help, help. And take care of each other.

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Mad As Hell and My Tongue Is Bleeding

Oh my gosh, people! STOP with the hatefulness, pettiness, and “warnings,” for ONE DAY, can’t you? I have tried so hard to keep quiet but my tongue is bleeding from biting it. So I’ll take a page from so many of you and get this out of my system. Twitter and Facebook are so full of vitriol and hostility and I am more than tired of seeing it all from people who are supposed to be friends and family.

In case you’ve forgotten , it is Veteran’s Day – I wonder how many protesters, whether in the streets or HIDDEN BEHIND YOUR KEYBOARDS, remember that it’s because of the Veterans and those who never returned from service that you have the right to protest. Yeah, remember them?

Rioting, stopping commerce, threatening people, and slinging insults is NOT the same as protesting. It isn’t!

Tell me, what are you accomplishing with your smoking-keyboard rants?

Some of you will say, “I’m just trying to educate people.”
No you’re not. You’re angry and disappointed, and you’re venting it on social media.
You have that right, as I mentioned, but for the love of all that is holy, it’s past the point of being ridiculous!

Trump supporters, there’s nothing wrong with being happy with the outcome, with being relieved that your candidate won, but your gloating is doing nothing but furthering the idea that you’re a hate-filled jerk who thinks you’re better than everyone else.

Clinton supporters, suck it up and get a grip. Your reactions are doing nothing but furthering the belief that you’re a whiny toddler who throws a tantrum unless everything goes YOUR WAY.

I have never been a fan of Obama, but I survived the last 8 years. Even when he said and did things that made my blood boil, not once did it even cross my mind to PROTEST his election. I prayed for the man, not nearly as much as I should have, but I tried. And I did not spend hours, days, and weeks, attacking his supporters from the anonymity of my computer.

I have friends who voted for Trump, for Clinton, for Johnson, and for No One, and I’m not mad at any of them for their vote. However, I am now seeing  a side of many of you that I wish I did not have to witness. I understand some of the reasons that some of you are upset and hurt and frightened. I really do. Many of you have valid reasons. If you are one of them, please consider this: many people would have had valid reasons to be upset, and hurt, and frightened had the election been won by Hillary Clinton. Let that sink in, alright? Not one of us can control the outcome of the election, or much of anything else. What we CAN control is our reactions.

It is time to move forward. None of us KNOW what the next 4 years hold, and all the gloom and doom predictions in the world will not tell us anything helpful. Stop yelling, stop pouting, stop gloating, and DO SOME GOOD.

Those of you who have spoken so loudly through this campaign about being tolerant and helping others, are your protests doing anything to help others?

So many people have spoken out against the division that we are seeing become more and more prevalent in our country. Is your reaction to the election helping to unify people, helping to heal that division that you say you are so sad about? No? Then maybe take a breath, step back, look at the world around you, and figure out what  you can do to make things better.

If you truly want to be part of the solution, if you want to make the world a better place, then use your words and your actions to do that, rather than contributing to the rift that is pulling people apart.

You and I have a choice, every day when we wake up, to be a person to be proud of, to be a person who helps others, to be someone who makes somebody’s world a better place.  Few of us are sitting in the positions of perceived power where we believe change comes from. But every single one of us has the opportunity to be kind. It costs you NOTHING. Change comes from all of us ordinary, everyday, people.

What might happen if everyone used the energy that it’s taking to blame everyone else, to throw insults at the people who think differently than they do, and use it to go out and DO SOME GOOD?  Hold a door for someone. Smile.  Yield the right-of-way in traffic instead of getting angry over it. Buy someone a coffee. Visit your lonely neighbor. Tell the cashier at the drive-thru to have a nice day and MEAN IT. Write to your representatives if you need to, and  tell them the things that worry you, the things that you would like to see accomplished, but at the same time, understand that it’s not all about you.

College students, (and I really did try to bite my tongue here), stop crying into your $6 latte about how expensive your student loans are and GO TO CLASS. Make that student loan work for you.

In every single election there are people who are disappointed and there are people who are happy but in my lifetime I don’t ever remember one that has caused this much division. That’s our fault. And we are the only ones who can fix it. So today, please put on your big girl panties or your big boy pants, go about your business, and thank a veteran for their service. Thank them for the right you have to protest. But keep in mind, a protest does not mean stealing, vandalizing, threatening people, and blocking business. Nothing good, NOTHING GOOD, is coming from any of that.

The outcome of this election did not make me ashamed to be an American but the behavior of many of my fellow countrymen and women these last 3 days has been an embarrassment.

If you’re still with me, I appreciate you reading. You may not agree with me and you probably don’t care what I think.
But here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to be positive. I’m going to do something nice for someone. I’m going to watch some cute puppy videos, and I’m going to share the most ridiculous cat memes I can find on my social media. I’m going to lose myself in books and music for a few hours. I’m going to focus on those I love, and on things I enjoy rather than focusing on what scares, worries, and angers me. I’m going to be thankful for all I have and work hard for the things I want. I’m going to pack some shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I’m going to love my family.

Changing the world starts at home, ya’ll. Let’s work on that.